Like in several other countries we bought a SIM card to our mobile phone here in Brazil. Arrived to the airport in Belo Horizonte we asked a shop keeper where to buy and which network he recommended. We got a chip from Vivo.
We tried to call. Not possible, it was necessary to register the SIM card first. When tried, they asked for the “CPF”.
Once we were with Lorenza, she phoned the hotline and managed to register the phone with her “CPF”, which is the identity card number in Brazil. This already means no tourist can register on himself the SIM card. We try to call. No luck. Lorenza phones the hotline again and it seems that to buy the chip which includes 10reais in money is not enough, you need to buy extra credit.
We go to a kiosk and get the credit. The phone works now. A call costs 1.50reais, about 0.65euros.
Couple days pass, we go to Rio de Janeiro and the sim card does not work anymore. We go to a shop and they say to call the hotline from the phone inside the shop. In the hotline they say the phone is not registered. I say that it is, that we got already some credit in it and did some calls. The lady in the hotline asks me to call some assistant in the shop. The assistant is clever. Aleluia. She says that the problem is the phone, that only quad-band phones work with Vivo in Rio de Janeiro. She was right.
Next day we needed to buy more credit. To receive a phone call in Rio de Janeiro costs 1.30euros the 1st minute, plus 0.65euros the extra-minutes! This with a Brazilian sim card. We go to a kiosk but the machine to charge says our number is not valid. We go back to the Vivo shop. There is a guy selling paper cards for charging the phone. The Vivo shops are always super busy. He says that as our chip is from a different state, only cards sold in the shop work.
We travel more, arrive to São Paulo, we need more credit (would be cheaper for us to use our foreign mobile phones). We go directly to a Vivo shop, they sold us the magic card but it does not work, says again “invalid mobile phone number”. The lady says again: “Yes, there’s a problem with chips bought in Minas Gerais, we cannot put money on them here”… How can we do? Then she gives us back the money and says: “Well, if you go to the other side of the road, to the lottery shop, there they can put money on your sim card”. And she was right, the official Vivo shop cannot put money on their own sim cards, but the lottery shop can!
Already in Minas Gerais we inquired other operator to see if things would be easier. First to go and she said that in their official shop they do not sell their own sim cards, one needs to go to a kiosk. We inquired about prices, state roaming. Five minutes later we come back with other question about prices and another seller says completely different from the first. We gave up.
The only advantage of having a Brazilian sim card is that internet access on the mobile phone is very cheap and that we would be able to receive sms from any Brazilian operator without problems. Even if in Brazil people do not seem so much fun of sms.